Artsy Things

Published on March 7th, 2009 | by Julie Finn


Artist Trading Cards: Share the Love!

My daughter's ATCsAs crafters, whatever our craft may be, I think it’s important that we also feel free to define ourselves as artists. This is true not only because we create works with our hands, with meaning and intent, but also for a couple more reasons in particular:

  1. In a mass-market, consumer culture society, in which creation is often thwarted by purchase, and beautiful, meaningful things are often replaced by cheap, disposable, products created far away by workers in often untenable situations, it’s very important for EVERYONE to realize their capability for artistry and for things that are made by one’s own hands. Crafting defined as artwork can help bring significance to crafting and relevance to artwork.
  2. Green crafting, especially, is an important craft to highlight as art because of the added significance it takes on in our current environmental context and its status as a sustainable, perhaps even healing practice both for our world and for ourselves.

As a crafter, no matter your craft, Artist Trading Cards are a fun, easy, and accessible way to translate your work into artwork. Here’s how to get started:

Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are trading card sized artworks that are freely exchanged between other creators and collectors. There are only two rules for an ATC:

  • The artwork MUST be official trading card size: 2.5″x3.5″. These are trading cards, just like baseball cards, and this is the rule. Some professional paper suppliers, like Strathmore, actually make their professional papers in ATC sizes, or you can of course cut down your own, but…
  • The artwork MUST be created on a professional quality paper as its base–no cardstock, no typing paper, but legitimate gallery-quality paper. This rule has a conceptual basis, in that it highlights the status of the creation as artwork, but every conceptual rule has a practical underbelly, and the truth is that professional quality paper is sturdier, it’s archival, and it’s well able to handle a variety of media and stand up to the wear it will likely receive.

One more rule: it’s best for your work to be archival–if you work with chalks, for example, or collage with ephemera, it’s best to seal it when you’re done. If only The Last Supper had been treated so well!

Other than this, your work is your own, and this small canvas is actually highly malleable to your purposes. Do you scrapbook? Create a ATC-sized scrapbook page! Do you throw pots? Create an ATC-sized sketch of a work or concept! Do you sew? Quilt over an ATC-sized canvas! Your ATC may be as three-dimensional or as textual or as whatever-you-want as you want it to be.

And then, when you’re done, swap your beautiful Artist Trading Card, post it on the ATC Flickr pool, or just give it to someone else, and encourage that person to make one of their own.

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

5 Responses to Artist Trading Cards: Share the Love!

  1. Wendy says:

    I love this idea!

  2. cake says:

    thanks for alerting me to this. i’m all over it now, and have been telling everyone about it. especially kids.

  3. Julie Finn says:

    I seriously never would have considered myself an artist until I tried these, and now I’m totally addicted.

    On account of I needed another hobby…

  4. Pingback: Salad Spinner Spin Art Tutorial : Crafting a Green World

  5. Pingback: DIY Business Cards: Crafty, Thrifty, and Eco-Friendly : Crafting a Green World

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